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July 22, 2019 | 9:48pm
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Sign posting rules within Ferndale could change

Putting up portable temporary signs around Ferndale has been relatively simple for businesses such as real estate agents directing prospects to open houses or residents promoting everything from garage sales to community-wide festivals and events.

The simplicity of posting such signs within Ferndale City Limits could change for many as the City Council will be discussing and holding a public hearing about recommended zoning text changes to sections of the Ferndale Municipal Code – Chapter 18.80 (Sign Requirements – All Zones) at Monday’s regular City Council Meeting.

City staff began giving at Ferndale’s sign regulations a hard look in 2016 after a Supreme Court decision said if signs of any specific subject matter are allowed or disallowed on public right-of-ways, they must all be. In other words, allowing or banning based on the purpose or content of a sign is unconstitutional as it places limitations on free speech.

So, as part of the changes being recommended, the zoning text will be changed to remove restrictions based on content. This was considered a better option than a blanket prohibition on all signs.

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But other restrictive changes are also being considered, including some that impact signage on public right-of-ways such as sidewalks and the narrow areas between roads and private property lines.

New restrictions on portable freestanding signs, including sandwich board signs and A-frame signs, will be added. Under the proposed changes, these signs may be permitted within the City of Ferndale as long as they do not exceed a total of 6 square-feet per side and are not more than 4 feet in height or 3 feet in width.

Additional restrictions being recommended by City staff include:

  • “No sign shall be located within 300 feet of the outermost point of the physical lane separation associated with a roundabout.”
  • “No signs may be placed in planter islands or landscaping areas with lawn or grass, when such signs, in the judgment of City Staff, obstruct normal maintenance and mowing.”
  • “Feather banners or banner signs are not allowed within the public right of way, with the exception of those banner signs approved for use on City infrastructure or utility poles.”
  • “No sign stakes, poles, or supports anchored into the ground within the public right of way may exceed a depth of six inches, unless a utility locate request has been completed.”
  • “No sign, or part of a sign, shall be located on or suspended above the public roadway itself.”
  • “The City has the authority to and may prevent ‘sign blight’ resulting from the proliferation of signs by removing signs, when such proliferation has substantively detracted from the surrounding area by constituting a nuisance and/or causing public health and safety concerns.”

The public hearing is scheduled during the Ferndale City Council regular meeting beginning 6pm on Monday, August 20th, held in the Ferndale City Hall Annex Building, located at 5694 2nd Avenue. Click here to read the full text of what will be discussed (30-page PDF file).

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